Monday, November 28, 2016

Presentations by C-FAHR members

The annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America occurred the week before Thanksgiving in New Orleans.  There were a number of C-FAHR members in attendance and presenting.  

Here are a few of the presentations that were captured:

Kara Dassel (Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program) is presenting work done by pilot grant awardee team of Neng Wan (Geography), Linda Edelman (Nursing), Gail Towsley (Nursing), and Alex Terril (OT).  They are doing fascinating work using GPS technology to track the "life-space" of couples coping with chronic illness.  

Becky Utz (Sociology), Mike Caserta (Nursing/Gerontology), and Kathie Supiano (Nursing/Gerontology) presented their work on bereavement and end of life.
We look forward to seeing these posters and learning more about this work at the C-FAHR poster symposium in the spring of 2017.

If any of you are traveling and presenting your work and would like to be highlighted on our blog, please contact becky (

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cross-Cutting Research -- Integrating Knowledge Across Domains


In a recent C-FAHR symposium, we discussed an article called:

Integrating knowledge across domains to advance the science of health behavior: overcoming challenges and facilitating success  by Klein, W.M..P., Grenen, E.G., O’Connell, M. et al. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. (2016). doi:10.1007/s13142-016-0433-5


Health behaviors often co-occur and have common determinants at multiple levels (e.g., individual, relational, environmental). Nevertheless, research programs often examine single health behaviors without a systematic attempt to integrate knowledge across behaviors. This paper highlights the significant potential of cross-cutting behavioral research to advance our understanding of the mechanisms and causal factors that shape health behaviors. It also offers suggestions for how researchers could develop more effective interventions. We highlight barriers to such an integrative science along with potential steps that can be taken to address these barriers. With a more nuanced understanding of health behavior, redundancies in research can be minimized, and a stronger evidence base for the development of health behavior interventions can be realized.
Following a brief discussion of the article, we highlighted research from two of our colleagues -- Lisa Aspinwall and Yelena Wu -- who are looking at the behaviors associated with melanoma, the barriers that people perceived to practicing sun-safe behaviors, and potential interventions aimed at decreasing the risk of melanoma by increasing the use of sun-safe health behaviors.  We used these two research examples as a starting point to think about how research in one area might be applicable to other health behaviors and health outcomes, and how methods and findings from other domains may be used to streamline the development of interventions.  Click here for the slides and a video recording of the session:   
One of the goals of C-FAHR is to think about how to bring together teams of researchers to answer larger questions about health of families.  Given this discussion, one promising direction for us to pursue is the similarity (and difference) of family-based health processes across multiple chronic conditions.  As the article states, we imagine that we have much to learn from integrating our knowledge across health domains, rather than replicating our results and duplicating our efforts by studying only one illness domain.  For example, what we learn from diabetes may be easily applied to what we want to know about cancer, and vice versa.  If you would like to be part of this conversation and explore the formation of a working group aimed at studying multiple chronic conditions, please leave a comment below or contact Becky ( or Cindy (  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Statistical Consultation for C-FAHR Members

C-FAHR Statistical Consulting

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About the Service:

The C-FAHR statistical consulting program is intended for members of C-FAHR, particularly faculty, to assist with grant applications, papers, pilot research and activities that will contribute to the interdisciplinary goals of C-FAHR. Consultation is not generally available for individuals outside of C-FAHR. Consultation is not available for class work (both undergraduate/graduate) or statistical tutoring. Limited assistance will be provided for master’s theses, dissertations, and graduate student projects, time permitting.

Scheduling Consultation:

To schedule a consultation, please email with:

  1. A brief description of the consultation request
  2. Whether the consultation is in service of a grant, paper, pilot research, or something else (please identify)
  3. Whether the request is coming from a faculty member, postdoc, or graduate student, plus their home department

Consultants will aim to respond to requests for consultation within 3 days to arrange an appointment, or to request further information to aid in assigning consulting requests.

The C-FAHR consultants are faculty members who have experience and exposure to a wide variety of statistical methodology, so please do not hesitate to make inquiries regarding any statistical or data analytic method or topic. Their areas of strongest interest and specialization are as follows:

  • Pascal Deboeck: familiarity and interest in a wide range of methodologies for the analysis of repeated observations on individuals/groups.

  • Daniel Adkins: structural equation modeling, psychometrics, longitudinal modeling, big data, parallel computing, bioinformatics and statistical genomics.

Friday, August 19, 2016

2016-2017 Events

C-FAHR is pleased to announce an exciting set of discussions, symposia, and workshops for this coming academic year.  These events are aimed at highlighting, fostering, and supporting interdisciplinary research teams studying topics related to families and health.  

September 12
330 to 530

LNCO 1100

Fall Symposium

Introducing the C-FAHR Cluster Hire 
Daniel Adkins (Sociology), Pascal Deboeck (Psychology), Bruce Ellis (Psychology & Anthropology), Kim Kaphingst (Communication & Huntsman Cancer Institute)

Research Presentations by 2015 Pilot Grant Awardees
·       Does Family Caretaking Inflate the Gender & Immigrant Health Gaps?  Megan Reynolds (Sociology) & Norm Waitzman (Economics): 

·       Promoting Resilience After Stroke in Survivor/Caregiver Dyads: Developing an Intervention:  Alexandra Terrill, Beth Cardell, Lorie Richards (Occupation Therapy), Justin MacKenzie (Physical Medicine Rehabilitation), and Maija Reblin 

Member Mixing & Mingling
October 17
4 to 5

Location:  CNB 2300
Data & Design Discussion -- What should I do with my data?
Julie Fritz (Physical Therapy) and Pascal Deboeck (Psychology).  This will be an interactive discussion where one researcher presents his/her data and research design and one methodologist (plus the audience) brainstorm together potential analytic strategies to answer specific research questions.
November 14
4 to 5

LNCO 1100
Data & Design Discussion -- Utilizing environmental data for health research

Alex Philp  from Upstream Research will highlight the data and tools they are developing to monitor environmental influences on health and well-being. 
December 5
4 to 5

HSEB 4100C
Research Presentations by 2015 Pilot Grant Awardees

·         Maternal Depression: Epigenetic Pathways to Child Problem Behavior  Elisabeth Conradt & Sheila Crowell (Psychology), Bob Silver and Jeanette Carpenter (OB-GYN), David Nix (Bioinformatics), Hillary Coon (Epi & Genetics)

·         The Air of Heirs:  Shared Environment, Shared Genes & Health Effects of Air Quality:  Heidi Hanson & Jim Vanderslice (Dept Family Prev Medicine), Ken Smith (Family & Consumer Studies & Huntsman Cancer Institute)
January 23
4 to 5

Location:  TBA
Grant Writing Resources

·         Panel Discussion:  What services and resources does the CCTS provide?  
·         Forming new teams to address active NIH solicitations
February 27th
4 to 5

Location:  CNB 2400
Data & Design Discussion -- Research Using the Utah Population Database

Ken Smith  (Director, Utah Population Database) will give an overview of the UPDB, highlighting examples of research projects done by C-FAHR related teams
March 27
330 to 530

Location:  CNB 2400

Spring Symposium

Challenges in Recruiting & Retaining Families for Research
Katherine Baucom (Psychology) & Paul LaStayo (Physical Therapy)

Poster Session.  All C-FAHR members are welcome to participate; C-FAHR pilot grant & grad student awardees are expected to participate

Member Mixing & Mingling 

Members, if you have any ideas for events that you would like to see C-FAHR offer, please let us know.  Provide a comment below, or reach out to Cindy ( or Becky ( with your ideas.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Cluster is Complete

C-FAHR started as part of the "Transformative Excellence Program" which granted us the resources to cluster-hire a set of scholars who further the interdisciplinary research strengths on our campus related to families and health. We are pleased to introduce you to our new hires.

Professor of Communication

Dr. Kimberly Kaphingst is a health communication researcher. Her research interests are in health literacy, cancer communication, family history, and the communication of genetic and genomic information. She led a series of intramural studies at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) that examined predictors of individuals' understanding of and responses to genetic information across various disease outcomes. She was a Co-Investigator on the study team for the intramural Multiplex Initiative at NHGRI, a study designed to examine uptake of multiplex genetic susceptibility testing among a population-based sample of healthy adults ages 25-40. Dr. Kaphingst led the working group that developed the Multiplex genetic susceptibility test results feedback strategy and examined participants' use of the study website and how this affected their decision making for uptake of the Multiplex test. She also led an analysis of participants' recall and comprehension, affective responses, and information seeking and health behaviors following receipt of the test results feedback. Dr. Kaphingst was the Principal Investigator on a recently completed study (R01 CA168608) to examine preferences for return of genome sequencing results among young breast cancer patients. She also co-led a supplemental project to the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities grant (3U54CA153460) at Washington University, which examined preferences for models of consent for secondary research uses of biospecimens among a diverse sample of women. She previously led a qualitative investigation of African American women's reactions to and use of two family history tools. In her current work, Dr. Kaphingst is investigating understanding of shared familial risk and family communication among Caucasian, Latino, and Pacific Islander families.  Dr. Kaphingst joined the University of Utah faculty in 2015.


The next three hires are joining the faculty at the University of Utah now, at the start of the 2016 academic year.  Welcome!

Professor of Psychology 

"As an overarching goal of my career, I seek to leverage knowledge from both evolutionary biology and developmental science to address core issues in developmental psychopathology, especially in relation to child and adolescent health. This work employs life history theory to model stress-health relations over the life course.  A major emphasis of my research has been the development of Biological Sensitivity to Context theory and its recent extension the Adaptive Calibration Model, which focus on how our biobehavioral systems respond to specific features of family environments and the larger ecological context.  My empirical work examines the impact of fathers, family relationships, and socioecological conditions on children’s biological stress responses, timing of pubertal development, risky adolescent behavior and cognition, and related health outcomes.  In addition to this basic research, I am interested in real-world applications in the form of theoretically-based interventions."

Associate Professor of Psychology

"Trained as a quantitative psychologist, I work to develop, improve, study and apply statistics to social science and medical data.  My interests are focused on the development and application of methods for the analysis of intensive, intraindividual time series. In particular I focus on the development and application of derivatives, differential equation modeling, and dynamical systems concepts to time series that have characteristics common to behavioral and some physiological measures such as relatively low sampling rates, large amounts of measurement and/or dynamic error, and unequally spaced or missing observations. In analyzing such data, I often focus on questions related to the role of variability and less-stable change (the “error” in many statistical models). These methods have the potential to inform theories that address how, when and why people change over time. I have worked with a range of applied topics including: resiliency and affect in older adults, health and depression as long-term outcomes of daily stress processing, marital quality and child well-being, sustained attention while driving, adult attachment, the coupling of maternal depression with child behavior, modeling of proteins associated with Alzheimer's, mood change in patients with rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and the motion of dancing individuals and dyads."

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Dr. Daniel E Adkins was awarded his PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has since been supported by various NIH grants, including an NIMH K01 Career Development Award providing him with five years of post-doctoral training in statistical genomics and bioinformatics at the VCU Center for Biomarker Research and Precision Medicine. His research, broadly quantitative and interdisciplinary, integrates social inequality perspectives on stress with genomic big-data to map how social disadvantage becomes epigenetically encoded, thus influencing downstream gene expression, health, and behavior. He has published over 40 peer reviewed articles in high impact sociology, psychiatry and genetics journals.

as a quantitative psychologist, I work to develop, improve, study and apply statistics to social science and medical data.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Workshop on Dynamical Systems Modeling

For five days in June (June 20-24), a group of about 20 C-FAHR members, including faculty and graduate students, participated in an intensive workshop called "An Applied Introduction to Dynamical Systems Modeling of Families and Health Data" taught by C-FAHR members Brian Baucom and Jonathan Butner. 

The goal of the workshop was to introduce computational modeling of family data so that participants can conduct analyses on longitudinal data in line with how a family functions as a dynamic system.  These procedures can focus on a single outcome through time or multiple outcomes consistent with how family variables (e..g, emotion, support, communication) may relate to each other by pushing and pulling one another through time to create a pattern. The workshop provided an applied introduction to these statistical methods, including discussion of how to think about families and health related questions from a dynamical systems perspective, how to generate dynamical systems hypotheses and how to interpret results of dynamical systems analyses. 

Thank you to Jon and Brian for teaching us, and thank you to all of the participants.  We feel certain that trainings such as these will help C-FAHR researchers apply novel, cutting-edge techniques to the study of families and health dynamics.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 Pilot Grant Awards (grad students)

 In Spring 2016, C-FAHR awarded seven one-thousand dollar grants to graduate students across campus.  These awards will assist these students with developing their own research agendas related to families and health. 

C-FAHR Pilot Grant Award Winners, 2016
Student PI
Faculty Advisors

Ashley Elrick
K. Kaphingst
Examining Health Topic Avoidance Within Families to Inform Intervention Development

Chelsea Gourley &  Ashley Donham
M. Diener
Human Development & Social Policy

Child Life’s Role in Managing the Stress of Pediatric Diabetes
Robert Kent de Grey
B. Uchino

Development and Validation of an Online Social Support Measure
Djin Lai
L.  Ellington
A Feasibility Study: Dyadic Coping and Concordance of End of Life Decisions in Home Health Patients and their Family Caregivers

Brendan Ostlund
L. Conradt & T. Drew Psychology

Brains in Bloom (BiB) Study

Corinna Trujillo Tanner
M. Caserta
Posttraumatic Growth among Older Adults with Vision Loss Caused by Age Related Macular Degeneration

Rumei Yang
L. Edelman
Fear of Falling in Older Adults and Corresponding Fears in Family Caregivers:
Dyads Coping with Fall Risks

Congratulations!  We look forward to hearing more about your research at a future C-FAHR symposium.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Research and Life Come Together

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Rebecca Utz, Cindy Berg, and Jonathan Butner recently wrote an essay published in The Gerontologist describing how their own experiences of familial health have influenced their research and their commitment to C-FAHR.

C-FAHR members, keep us updated of your new publications.  We would love to highlight them on this blog.  Send an update to:


It’s A Family Affair: Reflections About Aging and Health Within a Family Context

  1. Jonathan Butner, PhD

One’s health and aging cannot be uncoupled from the family system in which it occurs. Not only do families provide genetic material that determines major health risks and outcomes, families also share a culture, environment, and lifestyle that further influence health and aging trajectories. As well, family members are interconnected, so that an illness or a positive lifestyle change in one person can have reverberating effects on the health and well-being of others in the family system. This essay explores how families have the potential to both promote and threaten individual health and well-being, thereby influencing how an individual might age or experience later life. Weaving together personal biographies from three different authors, this essay provides specific examples of how the family affects the health and aging of individuals and how the health and aging of individuals affect the larger family unit. These dynamic processes have the potential to positively or negatively shape individual experiences of health and aging, even among those persons who are not yet in late life. This essay blends a developmental life course perspective with a dynamic family-systems approach to show how families engage in collaborative efforts throughout the life course, in which they both affect and are affected by the diagnosis and management of chronic diseases and the adoption of health promoting behaviors. Applying this perspective to the study of health and aging calls for interdisciplinary thinking, as well as novel methodological and quantitative solutions.

Click here for a copy of the full essay:
The Gerontologist
doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw081